Tunnel of Fudge, 1966

By • June 20, 2016 1 Comments

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Author Notes: Recipe adapted from the original at Pillsbury.com and Ruth at midcenturymenu.com.

This is the story of a cake and the story of the Bundt pan, which was invented in 1950 by H. David Dalquist (co-owner of the fledgling Nordic Ware company in Minneapolis, Minnesota) at the request of two local women looking for a lightweight alternative to the cast-iron Bundkuchen (a German word that means cake for a gathering of people). Dalquist called it the Bundt pan after its inspiration and put a few out on the market.

Sales were modest at best until Ella Helfrich took second place in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake Off with her cake recipe, Tunnel of Fudge. The recipe was such a smash hit that demand for the pan kept employees working around the clock to keep up. There are now an estimated 60 million Bundt pans in kitchens (and attics and basements) throughout the United States.

The cake itself proved just as popular until Pillsbury discontinued the crucial ingredient to the cake’s success, Double Dutch Frosting Mix, sometime in the 70s or 80s. Angry fans of the cake deluged the company with complaints, prompting Pillsbury to adapt the recipe, replacing the frosting mix with cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar.

I have made that recipe, and it is quite good, but when I came across blogger Ruth Clark’s adaptation at midcenturymenu.com using a different frosting mix, I knew I had to try it. If you can get your hands on boxes of Jiffy Chocolate Fudge Frosting Mix (I had to order it online, as it’s not available anywhere in NYC), it’s worth it; if not, check out the mix-less recipe on the Pillsbury website.

Note: Don’t skimp on the nuts and be careful not to over-bake. If you want the cake to come out perfectly, make sure that your oven is running at the correct temperature with an oven thermometer check and leave it in no more than 60 minutes!
Jessica Reed

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Makes one 10-inch bundt cake

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Chocolate Fudge Frosting Mix
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and frosting mix. Stir in the walnuts. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy and lighter in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each. Stop often to scrape the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly stream in the sugar. Once it is all in, continue to beat at medium speed for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a Silicone spatula, fold in the flour-frosting-nut mix until no streaks of flour are present. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the top is just set. It’s very important to not over-bake this cake and you’ll lose the fudgy filling.
  5. Let the cake cool in pan set on a rack for 2 hours, then remove the cake from the pan to cool completely.

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons milk
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and milk. Start with the smaller amount of milk; add more if needed to reach desired consistency.
  2. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Let sit 20 minutes to allow the glaze to harden before serving.

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Topics: Cake, Baking, Dessert, Chocolate